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Old February 16, 2009, 01:30 PM   #1
Playboypenguin
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Toy guns and children

I noticed the other day that toy guns are rare at Target, K-mart, etc. When I was a kid the toy section was at least 50% toy guns and GI Joes with guns.

I also notice that I seldom see kids in our neighborhood playing with toy guns. I see skateboards, iPods, frisbees, footballs, and other toys...but no toy guns. Even the squirtguns do not look like guns now. They look like chemical sprayers.

When I was a kid you could not look outside without seeing young kids playing with cap guns, suckerdart guns, disk guns, squirtguns, rubberband guns, BB guns, etc.

I started to wonder when did this start changing? So I thought I would ask...

How old are you and did toy guns play a big role in your childhood? Do your kids play with toy guns?

I am 42 and they definitely did in mine. Most of my toys were soldier related or cowboy related. I had toy rifles, toy revolvers, cap guns, squirt guns, etc. When Star Wars came out and the scifi bug took over my guns changed to pulse rifles and blasters, but they still remained firearms.

As you can see in these pics, I was very into guns as a kid. I am very young in the third one and already doing the finger twirl.







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Old February 16, 2009, 01:40 PM   #2
Tom Bombadil
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I'm in my late 40s, and my mother abhored guns and wouldn't let us play with them. My grandfather gave us toy guns for Christmas one year, and they didn't survive a day before my mom disposed of them.

However, in the absence of real toy guns, we managed to substitute almost anything to take their place...hockey sticks made good rifles, and a lot of different toys could be fashioned into a handgun. And, if nothing else was available, your thumb and index finger always provided a ready weapon.

So, in spite of the absence of toy guns in my house growing up, we still managed to play with guns whenever we wanted. I suspect that even in this age of political correctness that is still the case.
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Old February 16, 2009, 01:42 PM   #3
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Huge part of my childhood. Though, in fairness, I knew they were just toys. My dad started me shooting at age 5, so, I've always had a healthy respect for them.

I'm getting ready to have a son, and strangely I'm going to try and keep him away from toy guns etc...

I guess it was a better time, but alas, no more.

Or something like that.
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Old February 16, 2009, 01:50 PM   #4
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I'm 38 now. Cap guns, then BB guns were a constant when I grew up. I was lucky enough to have some woods behind my house so my best friend and I spent about a zillion hours down in there with our BB/Pellet rifles. Hell, I remember a time when BB gun fights (no pump ups allowed) were a normal thing. Looking back some eye protection would have been best but we understood that aiming for heads was not allowed. You know, we just used common sense back then. I don't know that people have any now days. We used to ride our bikes down the street with BB guns and it was no big deal.

I have two kids now and yes, I buy them toys guns and will get them started on BB guns when they are old enough. IMO children today are too soft.

Good topic. Made me remember some good times.
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Old February 16, 2009, 01:50 PM   #5
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I was born in 1954, and my dad was a big hunter. I had toy guns for as long as I can remember, and as anyone who knows me can see...they made me the violent phsyco I am today.

Now days, if someone sees kids running around with airsoft guns...they freak and call the cops. Glad I grew up when most adults still used the common sense God gave them...I feel sorry for the kids who have to grow up in this "PC crazed" world.
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Old February 16, 2009, 01:56 PM   #6
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Like a Broke Junkie trying to scrounge up enough cash for his next hit of crack.......I spent my early youth digging spare change out of couch cushions and car seats just to scrape up enough for that next $0.25 box of "Thunder Caps". Two bits for 4 rolls of 50 shots each......Bright red ribbons of paper held together by perforation....you had to be careful "breaking off" each roll, you didn;t want it to telescope, or it wouldn;t feed right when you loaded it in your cap pistol....
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Old February 16, 2009, 01:59 PM   #7
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Yeah, I remember what a technological advancement I thought it was when they moved from paper caps to the red "ring style" caps. I loved the fact that it allowed the toy revolvers look and load more like real guns...and you did not have the paper caps coming out and needing torn off. The only draw back was the ring style ones cost so much more. It was like 50 cents for a pack of 12 rings which each had six or eight shots on them.

Last edited by Playboypenguin; February 16, 2009 at 02:24 PM.
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:08 PM   #8
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The only draw back was the ring style ones cost so much more.
Yeah....played havoc with a 5 year-old's finances, let me tell you.....The cap pistols that took the 8-shot ring caps were like the kid's equivalent of a BBQ Gun....they only came out on special occasions.....
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:23 PM   #9
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I remember switching to the plastic ring caps. My first was a nickle plated small version of a Navy 1851 Colt. It was loud as I remember. Loved that little gun. Played Josey Wales a lot with it.
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:28 PM   #10
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I just turned 40 (***?! when did that happen?) and I grew up with toy guns and I still have my beloved Red Ryder BB gun. I don't have kids, but I just don't understand the fear of allowing children to play with toy guns. A big part of my childhood was spent playing cowboy and indians and war.
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:34 PM   #11
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I was born in 1989 and I grew up playing with guns. I had tons of different toy guns growing up. I remember one of my favorites being a blue plastic miniatureized version of an M16 that made a rattling sound when you pulled the trigger. I played with that thing till it fell apart. I also got really big into paintball in middle school and early in high school, I was on a semi-pro team that played in the CFOA, a league in the Southeastern US. My parents have never been really strict on me about anything though.

EDIT: Not to mention my grandpaw started me shooting with a little .22 Chipmunk when I was seven.
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:38 PM   #12
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SilentHitz and I share the same era - growing up watching shows like Roy Rogers (remember Gabby Hayes?)[1], Gene Autry, Maverick, Bat Masterson... and then all of the war movies and TV series - Combat!, Twelve O'Clock High, The Untouchables (always good for some gunplay).

Being a child in Texas meant that at least one kid on the block had a pair of "Roy Rogers™ Sixshooters" and was trying to be John Wayne. We played cowboys & indians, "army" and cops & robbers all the time in the summer. Squirt guns in summer were especially great and the super-soaker has nothing on the famous Dick Tracy® 12-gauge pump squirt gun! When that ran out, you used your Dick Tracy® Snub-Nose .38™ with Shoot-em Shells™ and Greenie Stickem™ caps.

Ahhh... youth.

Letting kids play with toy guns started falling out of favor, IMO, in the 1980's. Kids born before 1960 had a better than even chance that Dad was a war veteran from WW-II or Korea and they themselves played some kind of cops & robbers game as kids. Then we had the "flower-power" movement of the 60's. Those 20-somethings who had kids in the 60's became "sensitive" to violence portrayed in movies and TV as well as real life. As they matured and their kids grew up -- mostly in cities as America became much more urbanized after WW-II -- there was an emphasis on "peaceful" or "productive" play and "breaking down the stereotypes". Kids born in the 60's are more likely, as adults, to try to avoid giving children toy guns. Their peacenik parents are more likely to join groups like the Bradys, Greenpeace and End War Now.



[1] Bonus points for anyone who remembers who Nellybelle was.
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Yeah, I remember what a technological advancement I thought it was when they moved from paper caps to the red "ring style" caps. I loved the fact that it allowed the toy revolvers look and load more like real guns...and you did not have the paper caps coming out and needing torn off.
Dang! That sounds very cool, but it was after my time... which dates me, of course. Somewhere I have a picture of 5-year-old me in full cowboy regalia: hat, boots, chaps, and a six-shooter on each hip. The striped T-shirt sort of spoils the look, though.

I've no kids, no nieces or nephews, but I think today I'd worry -- not about letting kids play with guns as such, but about the possibility that someone sees a kid with a toy gun and thinks it's real, leading to Bad Things Happening.

And I seem to recall another thread here in which some people said they'd not let their kids play with toy guns, because they didn't want them to pick up bad gun-handling habits -- the 4 Rules should apply, regardless. I think most kids would know the difference, but there's some validity to this argument, I think.
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:40 PM   #14
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I remember when Star Wars came out. I was already 10 and going on 11 but I just had to save every penny (even mowed lawns and collected pop bottles) until I could afford the Han Solo blaster that took a 9v battery and actually made the sounds from the movie when you pulled the trigger.
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:41 PM   #15
Bear Claw Chris
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41 and I was totally into toy guns as a kid. Had a blue metal ".38 snub" cap pistol that went everywhere in my pocket!
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:44 PM   #16
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I'm only 23 and all I ever had were toy guns and action figures. Most everything was Nerf or water guns, but they definitely looked like guns. This weekend is my Nephew's birthday...maybe I will get him a toy gun
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:46 PM   #17
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For me, Rawhide was the big deal... "Movin', movin', movin', Though they're disapprovin', Keep those dogies movin'..."

I just wanted to be Clint Eastwood when I grew up. Didn't work out too well, though.
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:50 PM   #18
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Oh sure, cap guns etc. Once I got to ~7yo my mom gave me one of those Red Ryder bb guns with a STERN warning to never point it at anyone. It gradually evolved to a Powermaster 760 that I carried *everywhere* as we lived on the outskirts of town. Nobody blinked an eye, and many other kids had one too. This was back in the late 70's in Colorado.

I really think people have been brainwashed by the media that stuff like this is bad. If a kid were to do this today, there'd be some ninny calling 911 about a "kid with a gun".

As a matter of fact, a former friend's 11yo got arrested for shooting an airsoft gun at their neighbor's house. Charged with brandishing a weapon, had to do community service.
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Old February 16, 2009, 02:55 PM   #19
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I'll be 35 in a couple weeks. I played with toy guns quite a bit when I was a kid.

Heck from the time I was about 12 I had 2 real guns in my closet. Never played with them though. They came out of the closet for target shooting and hunting and that was it.

Walmart (and possibly Target?) still sells a few toy guns. Cowboy/Police/Soldier sets. I've bought a few for my son. They are nowhere near the prevalence they were when I was growing up though.
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Old February 16, 2009, 03:07 PM   #20
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Growing up in the 60s, we definitely had guns. My mom was never against guns, neither was Dad. I had as much fun with toy guns as a kid as I do as an adult with the real thing. I simply wish I had the real models now, of some of the toys I used to have.
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Old February 16, 2009, 03:21 PM   #21
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Toy guns were just part of growing up when I was a kid in the 1940's. Playing cowboys, cops & robbers, etc. were frequent games - all requiring some kind of toy gun. Later it was BB guns.

Today Political Correctness has overtaken our society. Retailers don't carry many toy guns for that reason IMO.
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Old February 16, 2009, 03:47 PM   #22
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I'm 41 and I would not be surprised if I had a toy gun before I could walk. I was a mid-life accident which gave me two siblings about a decade older so besides effectively having 2 sets of parents (and wasn't that fun? ) I had all my older brother's stuff around. So, Dad pretty much let my have all the responsibility I could handle. Elder bro had a BB pistol, so I had a BB pistol. Granted mine was a weak as heck Marksman BB/Pellet/Darts thing, but I was THREE when I got it. If we were spending the weekend at our place on the river, part of my getting ready was to put on my cowboy holster and have Dad cock and load my BB pistol "for snakes." NEVER ONCE occured to me to get up to any mischief with it. Dad, though, was all about finding targets of opportunity for me to shoot.

I don't count BB guns as toys but that was the start. I had so many toy guns by the time school started, Mom put up a make-shift gun rack for them. Most of the kids on my street, if we decided to play some gun-based game (wait ... that was every day, wasn't it?) regarded my house as the neighborhood armory (hmm... kinda like now, I s'pose ). I had cap guns galore, stopper "dart" guns, some big ping-pong-ball shooting rifle I got for my third birthday (Mom used to set up toy animals all over the house for me to go on safari), light-emitting rayguns ... wow ... what cool memories!

I had a 1917 Enfield bayonette that some great-uncle o'mine used in WWI (I'm a mid-life accident from a late-life accident). I found out that it fit perfectly upon the bayonette mount on a toy M1 Garand I had when I was 9 or so. Dad let me use the real bayonette for play "so long as noone else is around." I see the price of those things now ... Dad cut down some old non-functional BB rifle for me once. It had a really heavy wooden stock and "looked real." He cut it down into a Mare's Leg for me to act out Steve McQueen's character from the Wanted: Dead or Alive reruns I was hooked on then. I usually played a cop ... so yeah, given my current occupation, I guess they helped form my current role.

Wow ... This'll be a nice trip down memory lane! I even remember being 3 or so and my now wife's older brother and me playing with a cap-shooting rifle at my grandmother's house. How does that song go? "It was a different life when we were boys and girls."

My kids had toy guns from about the time they could hold one. My son (now 15 ... gadzooks!) preferred handling toy guns "Because there's less responsibility!"

--- BRILLIANT thread!
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Old February 16, 2009, 03:48 PM   #23
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I've been on this good earth since 1947. Had many a toy gun as a child.
I would really like to know what took place to change everything. When I was in High School we had a rifle team. They would bring their .22 rifle to school and keep it in their locker until getting on the school buss with the team coach and heading to the range for practice. I would not want to be a child growing up in the world we have now.

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Old February 16, 2009, 03:55 PM   #24
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I'm in my mid-20's now; I grew up on toy guns. I had boxes of various ones, be they cap, squirt, rattle, or nerf. I spent the better part of my childhood running around the woods behind my house saying "eheheheheheheheh! You're dead!"

Then in the early 90's I got into paintball and played for a decade, but that was back when the game was fun. We were a bunch of weekend-warriors who all wanted to be johnny Rambo.

It was a natural transition to firearms for me, but then again, my father has been a collecter/casual shooter for as long as I can remember.

All that "violence" as a child and I turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself!
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Old February 16, 2009, 04:03 PM   #25
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I also notice that I seldom see kids in our neighborhood playing with toy guns.
Where has all the fun gone with being a kid!

I am 37 and grew up with toy guns and real guns all my life. My daughter plays with water guns during the summer. But little girls shy away from boy stuff most of the time. Atleast, my daughter does. She does go to the range with me and has decided that my P22 is now "her gun!" Makes me cry everytime I think about it.

PBP, I too remember those "red ring caps" that you are talking about. I remember my mother giving me a rifle that used those "red ring caps" It was very cool. It was a top break style. It kind of reminded me of a Sharps.

On a side note. In my neighborhood, most of the kids come to our house to play Wii with my daughter. But a select few won't come in the house due to the fact, as one parent said "he has a safe full of guns in that house".
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